In an effort to begin monetizing one of the most popular social networks in social media history, Pinterest announced yesterday that the company will begin testing its first social advertising product: Pinterest Promoted Pins.
I was impressed with the way Pinterest communicated the announcement to its users. Yesterday, I received an email from Pinterest Founder and CEO Ben Silbermann that opened by mentioning his one-year-old son and all of the fun things he and his wife had planned for his future through some boards filled with fun pins. It was a great way to tastefully say, “Look, I’m a guy who worked really hard for the last three years to build something great that you love — now it’s time my young family and I to get paid.” In my opinion, Pinterest has earned the trust that it takes to roll out a social advertising model.
Side note: It’s important to note that this isn’t the first time Pinterest, which has received some heavy investment over the years, has tested revenue-generating opportunities. Remember the affiliate link debacle? Pinterest has learned some important lessons since then.
Further in the email, Silbermann promised that this new feature would not equate to “banner ads” that would litter the site. Instead, the Pinterest founder promised the following for Pinterest Promoted Pins:
Tasteful: No flashy banners or pop-up ads.
Transparent: We’ll always let you know if someone paid for what you see, or where you see it.
Relevant: These pins should be about stuff you’re actually interested in, like a delicious recipe, or a jacket that’s your style.
Improved based on your feedback: Keep letting us know what you think, and we’ll keep working to make things better.
Pinterest has had some time to consider the impact Promoted Pins could have not only on its bottom line (and the return it will have for investors), but also on the users who have skyrocketed the social network to fame more quickly than any in social media history. If they adhere to their own simple, but important, guidelines laid out here, I think they’ll do well.
From the social marketing angle, it will be interesting to watch how accurately their algorithms will determine relevancy, or more specifically, what criteria business marketers will have to target various audiences. Could it ever be as targeted as Facebook advertising? I’m not sure it could, but the goodwill Pinterest will likely garner through continued communication and transparency should help build and maintain trust among its users, which can only help those businesses and brands using the product.
Many are used to Facebook’s way of doing things. Most users don’t hear about how new privacy or advertising changes affect them until their friends are blowing up their Facebook feed with protests and threats to leave. Obviously, Facebook is doing well despite this lack of communication, but I applaud Pinterest for taking the less dictatorial road. Pinterest learned during the affiliate link controversy that communication and transparency is critical to building and maintaining user trust.
It will also be interesting to see what kind of guidelines marketers will have to follow to ensure their ads are “tasteful” and not “flashy.” I could propose a few, but that’s for another blog post! In the meantime, I’m excited to eventually try out Pinterest Promoted Pins once they open the new feature beyond the test group. My clients have seen tremendous results through Pinterest and a tight integrated strategy that also involves targeted advertising would only multiply the results.
What do you think about Pinterest Promoted Pins? Will they make their way into your marketing budget?
(Photo courtesy of the Pinterest blog on Pinterest.com)